Browne Jacobson launches financial education sessions

EXCLUSIVE: Browne Jacobson is rolling out financial education sessions for its employees.

Browne Jacobson

The sessions are targeted at three groups of staff: those who are over 50 and planning to retire, those between the ages of 30 and 40, and those between the ages of 20 and 30 who are just starting off in pensions.

Helen Whitt, HR advisor at Browne Jacobson, said: “We did it as a targeted exercise. We looked across all our employees, whether they belong to the pension scheme or not. It has been done to support people.”

The law firm launched the financial education sessions at its Nottingham office at the end of February and will roll them out in Birmingham in March.

Whitt added: “We’re also hoping to offer it via webinar in April, so we can get to Exeter and Manchester, and also include anybody who wasn’t around [for the previous sessions].”

Financial education and auto-enrolment

The sessions, which are being run by Portus Consulting, follow on from one-to-one financial education sessions the law firm ran with its pension provider Standard Life when Browne Jacobson auto-enrolled staff into pensions.

Browne Jacobson’s auto-enrolment staging date was 1 November 2013. “We tried to do it largely in-house by improving the skills and understanding of the HR team here, rather than going externally and being reliant on a third-party provider,” said Whitt.

“We spent a lot of time looking at what resources are available for employers. There were a lot of webinars providing by The Pensions Regulator. We had a project team of about eight and we registered and made sure each individual listened to the relevant webinar for their particular area of expertise. I think I listened to about nine.

“We also became aware that there are quite a lot of free-to-use resources provided by the Department for Work and Pensions. We registered with their website so that when we were doing communications for auto-enrolment, we were able to use the little logo that they provide on our intranet and on the emails we sent out.”

Communicating pensions auto-enrolment

Browne Jacobson began communicating auto-enrolment to staff almost a year before its staging date, with a simple message on its onsite digital board: ’One year to go until auto-enrolment’.

From January 2013, the organisation ran a monthly report from its payroll to look at who was not a member of its group self-invested pension plan, and sent out short email messages with details about auto-enrolment to these employees.

In July 2013, it hosted a benefits and wellbeing fair at three of its offices, tied into its annual flexible benefits enrolment window.

Standard Life representatives came onsite to talk to employees about auto-enrolment. Whitt added: “We have some employees in legacy pensions and they spoke to them at length about how it affected them.

“They were also on hand to do one-to-one clinics with employees about auto-enrolment. Employees were able to ask personal questions about how auto-enrolment affected them.”

Browne Jacobson also circulated Standard Life’s pensions calculator and an online video to all employees who were going to be auto-enrolled.

“We got very good feedback and engagement with both of those resources,” said Whitt.

Before auto-enrolment, 399 of the law firm’s employees were already members of the pension scheme. It took 231 employees through the assessment process and auto-enrolled 194 eligible jobholders. Only 10% of employees opted out.